Localized Extreme Weather More Pronounced This Year

      July 23, 2013 13:03

      The weather has contrasted starkly in different regions of the country this summer, which is quite unusual for the summer monsoon that has generally brought downpours evenly throughout the country in July.

      The Korea Meteorological Administration on Monday forecast heavy rainfall in central parts on Tuesday and Wednesday, with 50 to 100 mm of rain on average, but some parts of the region are expected to see more than 150 mm of rainfall.

      In contrast, southern parts including Daegu and Ulsan are expected to see clear skies and temperatures soaring to 33 degrees Celsius, according to the KMA. What is causing these stark divisions?

      ◆ Clashing Weather Fronts

      The KMA says the central part of the nation is seeing an unusually long monsoon season this summer, while southern areas are experiencing a heat wave because the North Pacific high pressure front is clashing with the continental high pressure system.

      Under normal conditions, the North Pacific high weakens and strengthens repeatedly just ahead of the peak summer season. This causes the rain front to travel up and down the Korean Peninsula. But this year the North Pacific high is unusually strong and hovering over the central part.

      This has caused the moist North Pacific high to clash with the dry continental high, trapping the rain front and concentrating precipitation in the center. As a result, southern parts had had little rain and experienced soaring temperatures.

      Weathermen say such patterns were also spotted in 2004 and 2011 but are more pronounced this year.

      ◆ Heat Wave Takes Toll

      While heavy rains are claiming victims in the central region, heat stroke casualties are adding up in the south. From June 1 until July 18, there were a total of 125 so-called tropical nights, when the mercury stays above 25 degrees after sunset, in 45 cities, the most since 2000.

      There were 99 cases where daytime highs surged past 33 degrees Celsius in 26 cities from June to July 18, the third most since 2000. These conditions have struck down 248 people with heat stroke, more than 2.5 times greater than the same period last year.

      The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said South Jeolla Province saw the largest number of heat stroke victims at 81 per 100 people, followed by South Chungcheong Province with 39 and North Chungcheong Province with 36.9, focused mainly in the south.

      The KMA forecast the southern heat wave will subside as the tropical rain front moves south starting Wednesday night. The rain front will move as far south as Jeju Island between Thursday and Sunday, but rain will return to the central region next Monday.

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